Buildings’ foundations are vital structural components designed to serve several purposes. First and foremost, they support an entire load of a structure to keep it upright and prevent it from sinking into the ground. Aside from that, the foundation gives the building strength and helps protect it against the elements. Of course, whether it lives up to its responsibilities depends largely on quality and condition.
Determining whether a foundation is in optimal shape isn’t always a simple matter. Numerous telltale signs could be indications of budding problems or poor-quality materials and craftsmanship. Though you can learn a great deal more at Helitech about detecting foundation issues, we’ll take a look at some of the basics here.
Check for Cracks
Buildings are bound to settle a bit during the first few years after they’re built. This causes cracks to develop. Authorities insist some aren’t significant issues. Hairline cracks measuring less than 1/16 of an inch in width are perfectly normal.
Small vertical cracks are also considered harmless, but horizontal ones are different matters entirely. They’re often indications of excessive water pressure against the foundation. Diagonal cracks, on the other hand, are symptoms of shifting.
Regardless of the size or direction of foundation cracks, they should be monitored closely to be sure they’re not getting longer or wider. A downloadable ruler app may help with this, or you can buy one in almost any store where school supplies or building materials are sold. Keep a running tab of those measurements in a spreadsheet or on paper.
Look for Signs of Sinking
Though indications of sinking are among the easiest foundation issues to spot, most people are unaware of what they’re looking at. This problem often manifests itself as ripples in ceilings or uneven places on floors. The latter may not be visible at first, but it can be felt when walking across an affected floor.
Lopsided door frames and doors that won’t close or open like they should many also be signs of sinking. Eventually, you may even be able to look at the outside of the building and see noticeable drops in certain areas.
Be on the Lookout for an Upheaval
Upheaval is the opposite of sinking. With this problem, the building’s foundation rises in certain areas due to the high moisture content in the soil. If you notice cracks in the walls
and floors or find windows and doors are becoming difficult to open and close, upheaval may be the culprit. Outer walls may also shift and begin to separate from the ceiling.
If you’re not sure whether foundation upheaval is responsible for sticking doors and window damage, consider downloading a bubble level app to check the frames for asymmetry. These apps allow your phone to act as a traditional level so you can detect unevenness.
Watch out for Separation Anxiety
If you notice cracking or peeling paint or caulking around the edges of countertops and other fixtures where they meet the walls, keep an eye on the issue. This may not be a sign of cheap materials or flawed application techniques.
It could mean those fixtures are separating from the walls, and this is an indication of foundation damage. Vanities pulling away from their adjoining walls, shifting wall and floor tiles and increasingly uneven molding or baseboards fall into this category as well.
These are a few of the signs of foundation issues visible to even the untrained eye. If you suspect your foundation is shifting, don’t hesitate to call in a professional for help. Leaving the problem to its own devices could negatively affect the structural integrity of the building and jeopardize the safety of your employees and customers.